Throughout Black History Month, the stories of Black people have been celebrated. But the community’s lived experiences aren’t restricted to 28 days. Canadian beauty brand Inkbox and Toronto-based tattoo artist Brittany Randell launched a collection of semi-permanent Black-inspired tattoos that will keep the energy of Black History Month alive well into the rest of 2019. The collection is a way to celebrate and acknowledge Black art and joy, minus the pain of a tattoo needle.
Randell is a boss in her own right as the creator behind the designs of HumbleBee Tattoo, and also an advocate for Black representation in the tattoo community. In many the designs featured on her Instagram page, Randell features Black women as the focal point. The artist spoke in an interview with Inkbox about how she often posts her work on Black clients to debunk the stereotypes associated with tattooing darker complexions.
""Knowing the pigments and colors that you’re using, not everything works with our skin," Randell told Inkbox, "That doesn’t mean we’re limited to just black ink … I like using Instagram as a challenge to show other artists that we [Black people] can be photographed."
Randell’s collection with Inkbox consists of nine different designs. A mix of flowers, butterflies, and silhouettes of Black women are packed into one temporary tattoo collection. The featured subjects are what Randell considers her muses. As stated in a press release received by Bustle, the designs in the collection are inspired by Randell’s love for nature and her Black roots.
"I draw what I know," Randell tells Bustle, "Being a Black woman and being a part of the Black community, that just seems normal to want to draw."
The tattoos show silhouettes of Black women with naturally curly hair and afros, with some of the women wearing their hair in a head wrap. Each of the temporary tattoo designs retail for $23, and the Inkbox x Brittany Randell collection is already available online at Inbox.com. Here are some of the best picks that will help you embrace Black joy beyond February.
The Zenski tattoo is a design of a Black woman with her afro decorated with flowers. To Randell, using flowers and people in this collection was intentional because they’re both creations of the earth.
"In my opinion, flowers are representative of nature or symbols of nature and this earth," Randell tells Bustle. "Botany, animals, and insects are connected with all people. We are all one from this earth and that is what it represents. Not just for Black women but for everyone. Earth and life that is born on this earth is like a network of energy and that is why I tattoo things from nature."
The temporary tattoo that Randell calls the "Thily" tattoo features another silhouette of a Black woman. In this design, the woman wears a head wrap, hoop earrings, and dots of face makeup across the bridge of her nose.
Randell tells Bustle that the dotted face makeup on the women in her designs are derived from African traditions.
"I adorn some of the female portraits I draw to represent the traditions and aesthetics of different countries within Africa. Dot work on the face, for example, is representations of scarification and tattooing."
Scarification is the intentional scarring of the skin in different patterns on the flesh with sharp objects like glass or knives. In some African tribes, scarification was used on the deepest complexions because tattoo ink, at the time, wasn’t compatible with deeper skin tones. Scarification can tie to cultural references like identifying one’s hierarchy in a tribe or clan, a life milestone, or for spiritual purposes.
One thing Randell wants people to get out of her tattoo designs is that tattoo ink isn’t just for lighter skin.
"Tattooing is for everyone and all types of skin," Randell told Bustle. "Presently, tattooing, especially in the media, is colonized. This industry was birthed from people of color, indigenous and native practices all over the world. People of color should have more representation in this modern white cis industry because that where it originates from."
Randell pushes for more representation of people of color in the tattoo industry and does so beautifully with ink — permanent or temporary.
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